Not too long ago, Glenn Howard was a favourite in any event his foursome entered. The four-time World Champion has won nearly everything there is to win, but this season finds the Midland, Ont., native with a new lineup, and success hasn’t been easy to come by.
As recently as 2012, Howard’s team was ranked No. 1 on the Canadian Team Ranking System list. This year, he finds himself at No. 16 on the CTRS, and for the first time in several years, outside of the top 15 on the World Curling Tour Order of Merit as well, which means no more guaranteed invites to Grand Slam of Curling Events.
This weekend, Howard along with Richard Hart, David Mathers, and Scott Howard, find themselves in Cookstown, Ont., at the CookstownCash presented by Comco Canada Inc. A good result in the 30-team event would move them up the CTRS leaderboard considerably, and potentially back into the WCT top 15.
Howard trails American John Shuster (WCT No. 15) by less than one point, which he will likely be able to make up this weekend. Further up the list is Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz (No. 14), nearly 20 points ahead. While a strong finish in Cookstown could earn him more than that, de Cruz will also be competing in the event, having won it last year. Shuster, on the other hand, is not playing this week, leaving himself vulnerable to be passed.
The CookstownCash also features Toronto’s John Epping, who is currently ranked third on the CTRS, and fifth on the world rankings. A win for him would likely push him into the top CTRS spot. Also in the field, former Ontario champs Greg Balsdon, Mark Kean, and Mike Harris. Scotland’s Kyle Smith, fresh off his first Grand Slam appearance, will also be in the mix.
A few hours across the province, many of Ontario’s top women’s teams are gathering in Kemptville, Ont. at the Royal LePage OVCA Women’s Fall Classic. Twenty-four teams are battling through a triple knockout for a share of $17,500.
Along with seasoned veterans like Sherry Middaugh (Coldwater, Ont.) and Toronto’s Cathy Auld (both previous champions of the Kemptville event), there’s some out-of-province and out-of-country competition as well.
Quebec has two teams represented in Marie-France Larouche (Levis, Que.) and Eve Belisle (Montreal). There’s also three teams from Atlantic Canada with Fredericton’s Melissa Adams, Charlottetown’s Robyn McPhee, St. John’s’ Stacie Curtis, and Halifax’s Mary-Anne Arsenault.
The sole international threat is Japan’s Ayumi Ogasawara.